The word “calisthenics” comes from two ancient Greek words: kallos (which means beauty, perfect, or good) and sthenos (which means great strength, courage, and determination).
In late 19th century, calisthenic exercises were introduced in Australia as a means to keep people fit and healthy, and these exercises gradually morphed over the decades to choreographed theatrical performances involving music and dance. Calisthenics (aka Australian Calisthenics) as it is known today is a unique team-based competitive performing art with elements of rhythmic gymnastics and ballet that’s practiced in all Australian states except Tasmania.
If you’ve never heard of Calisthenics, the “Skills Syllabus – Gold Medal” video demonstrates some of the movement skills. It’s a good example of the flexibility, strength, balance, precision and grace required of competitors in the sport.
Calisthenics competition includes a variety of ‘items’ performed on stage: Figure March, Club Swinging, Free Exercises, Rod Exercises, Aesthetics as well as a few ‘fancy items’ that focus on theatrical performance: Song and dance, Calisthenic Spectacular, Rhythmic (similar to Aesthetics), Stage Presentation and Calisthenics Revue. Competitors wear beautiful costumes and theatrical make-up to emphasise expressions on stage. The video below is a short demonstration of “Free Exercises” Calisthenics competition.
While team competition is the main focus, solo competition is also a part of Calisthenics, and one of the highlights each year is the elite solo competition category “Most Graceful Girl”. The video documentary, Graceful Girls, follows school teacher Brianna Lee’s final attempt to fulfil her dream to win the ‘Most Graceful Girl’ title. This short video was the 2012 video pitch for funding the documentary, and it provides a brief description of the sport of Calisthenics as well as it’s history. The funding campaign was successful, and Graceful Girls was released in Australia (2015). DVDs are still out there and available → HERE*; however, a multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player is required to view it. *[Zeester Media LLC may receive a small commission for a purchase you make via this link to Amazon. This in no way affects the price you pay for the purchase.]
Feature photo ‘Aesthetic’ was sourced from the Australian Calisthenics Federation website where you can find more information about this very unique sport from the Land Down Under.
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